I was driving my younger kiddos to school the other day, the normal grind in the morning 2 hour commute, when a giant silver SUV started following me rather aggressively. I figured it was another tired mom like me, dealing with who knows what behind her and all around her. But, being in a school zone, I made the good and sober decision to just keep going the speed limit. AND OF COURSE, as the rules of road rage go, this made her irate, resulting in her lurching her vehicle back and forth behind me. I continued to hold to the speed limit. A few moments later, she squealed her car around mine and took off in the left lane, weaving around other cars and dashing for a free lane.
And then … a red light ahead. As I began to stop with the other cars, I looked over in time to see us passing a giant silver SUV in the left lane. That giant silver SUV.
As I sat there, waiting for the light to turn green and the demands of the day to continue to press on me, I had so much compassion for the driver of that car. So much. This adulting thing and this parenting thing and this driving thing and this morning thing can be rough on the soul. Sometimes I just want – no need – to have a free friggin’ lane and some green lights. YOU KNOW?
But, the truth was right there in front of me: This driver and I had traveled the exact same path and the exact same distance, but the experience we each had had getting there was so entirely different. It made me think about all the times that I’ve done the same thing, when weaving and darting and pressing forward felt like the best way to get “there”, all the while not knowing the toll it was taking. What is the point exactly, if we “arrive” in that state of being?
There are so many areas of my life in which I have been offered the opportunity to just let go and agree to a pace that is not my own. Those areas have brought to my life a sense of connection to the “stuff” that matters, an affinity to the good and the true. The other areas, of which there are plenty, I don’t have that. Instead, I feel like I’m constantly missing the bus to done-dom and enough-ism. In simple terms: I beat myself up daily about it all.
These things eat away at me, if I’m honest. The best way I can describe it is that feeling I get when I look at a picture of myself or I see myself on camera and there’s something about the image of me that I don’t like or that surprises me. In an instant, I am immediately ushered into a place where I make urgent irrational decisions about what I eat, how I sleep, what I wear, if I meditate, if I exfoliate, if I read “smart enough” novels, what I watch on Netflix, etc etc etc. It all feels urgent and it all says: FIX THIS NOW SO THAT YOU CAN BE LOVED AND SAFE.
I mean, I know that that is dramatic, but that’s how it feels deep down. Do I express that verbally or in a way anyone else would notice? Hell no. I stuff it into the depths of me, tuck it away, and then begin attempting to alter everything about me without anyone noticing.
I wonder about this, what the collateral damage is. And I have a strong feeling that – and warning, I’m about to get morbid – when I get to the end of my life, this “if, then” tendency will be the thing I regret the most. As I watch people around me grapple with illness and aging, I feel an intense pull to want to learn how how to belong to myself and to my communities now, before I arrive. This is so that, in the end, I am not scrambling to find meaning, but instead can feel the residual effects that that meaning has had on my life for so long. I want belonging to be as familiar as my heart beat. My guess is that this only happens when I free this belonging from conditions. And, wow, being 42, I think I still feel that I have more control over the conditions than I truly do.
So, in keeping with our willingness to dive into the deep end and get a little messy, this month in MommaStrong, we will be focusing our April Hook on finding belonging before we arrive. We’re calling it “Are We There Yet” because, oh yes, we all know that question oh so well.
Wondering how The Hook works and how you can join us in it? It starts THIS MONDAY, APRIL 3rd. If you are a current member, you can register by logging in to your account, clicking the “The Hook” link in the teal navigation menu and following the instructions there. If you are a new member, HELLO! Simply sign up and follow those directions above.
After you register, all we encourage you to do is to listen to one short episode of our mini podcast each week, then comment or discuss as you like in our community. OH, and you try to show up for 5-15 minutes of exercise as often as possible during the month.
And with that, I wish you a day of staying in your lane. Maybe.